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lines of his blessed image. But the Christian's not given to all Christians in the same degree; love must not be limited to the household of, but if it be withheld from any it is because they faith. It must be a love large as humanity-and do not, according to Paul's exhortation in the prompting him to do good unto all men. For Epistle to the Hebrews, show diligence to this love is the fulfilling of the law-it is the very obtain the full assurance of hope to the end.' It principle and essence of all true obedience to the is because they are slothful,-not following them commandments of God. who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises. When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.' And so after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. Now as Christians are all the heirs of the same promise, God did show not only to Abraham, but to us, the immutability of His counsel, by thus confirming it with an oath. And this he did, just that all in every age might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope of the gospel. And therefore it is the fault, not of God, but of our own weak and wavering faith, if we have not this hope as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, entering into that within the vail, whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.
• And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure,' 1 John iii. 3. NOTHING, alas! is more common than for man to deceive himself with hopes which the word of God gives him no warrant to indulge. The hope of the righteous shall be gladness, but the hope of the hypocrite shall perish.' 'I will hope continually,' said David of old, but it was because God had been the teacher whose instructions he had followed from his youth, whose wondrous works he had hitherto declared, and on whose faithfulness he could therefore with unwavering confidence rely. No man can truly abound in hope, save through the power of the Holy Ghost, giving him peace and joy in believing on the name of Jesus. And how inestimably precious is this blessed hope! So deeply does it enter into the comfort of the Christian life, and so powerfully does it contribute to make the believer steadfast in the faith, that we are said, in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, to be saved by hope.'
It is indeed comparatively but little of the actual enjoyment of eternal life, which in this body of sin and death,—in this vale of tears,-is obtained. Some glimpses of the divine glory the believer, it is true, is privileged to behold, though but darkly as in a glass; and though he knows not as yet what he shall be, this much he is assured of, that in the day of his Lord's coming, he shall be like him, because he shall see him as he is. And it is the hope of so glorious a consummation, of so bright and enduring a reward, that cheers him on amid the perils and perplexities of his pilgrimage. There can be no doubt that a hope of a similar kind mightily upheld the human soul of our Lord himself. When his disciples returned and told him, that even the devils were subject unto them through his name, beholding in this fact the earnest of his final triumph he saw already, as it were, 'Satan fall like lightning from heaven,' and in that hour 'he rejoiced in spirit.'
Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.' This is the legitimate, the necessary effect of a well-founded hope of being for ever with the Lord. It impels every soul which it animates to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Think of the mighty and incessant influence which is exerted over men of all professions, and of every condition in life, by the hope of reaching what they have been accustomed to regard as a position of independence. How steadily, for example, the man of business, who is bent on the acquisition of a fortune, keeps his eye on that cherished end. How many journeys will he take,—how many minds will he labour to conciliate,-how much calculation and foresight will be employ. For years he will deny himself every relaxation, every common indulgence of life,— toiling more painfully than does the daily labourer, and all to lay up stores he may never live to enjoy. If, then, the prospect of those uncertain and unsatisfying rewards which this world can bestow, have power to stimulate their votaries to toils and sacrifices like these,-shall the Christian alone, with all his bright and animating anticipa tions, remain cold and unmoved? Shall the joys of a blessed immortality call forth no effort-shall the crown of life, seen shining in the distance with a lustre which even eternity shall never dim,-impart no thrilling impulse to the energies
It is true, this animating and elevating hope is of his mind?
All experience proclaims that the objects on which the men of this world fix their regards, even when attained, have infinitely less power to please and satisfy than they vainly believed.
But how different, how opposite are the blessed and eternal rewards which await the children of God? As much as imagination magnifies and exaggerates, in anticipation, the worth of the world's possessions, so much, yea infinitely more, does it fail in rising to an adequate conception of the treasure which never fails. 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him', 1 Cor. ii. 9.
'It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is,' 1 John iii. 2. The perfection of our nature, and the consummation of our happiness, consist in our likeness to Christ.
That resemblance to Christ must be begun now, if it is to be completed then. Let Christ then be our daily study,-his doctrines, his character, his person, his work, his life. Let us set him always before us, looking to the example he hath left us, that we should follow his steps. Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, may we also be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.
manity is engaged in this sublunary sphere. For such a state of existence it is required by the very nature of things that preparation be made. For what would be the condition of an unregenerate soul, if when loosed from the miserable body its excesses had perhaps destroyed, it were transported into the regions of heaven, and made the companion of beings radiant with celestial purity and holiness? The sinner would there turn in vain to look for any of those sources from which, on earth, he had derived his guilty pleasure. The pure occupations of the just made perfect would be a weariness, yea, an abhorrence to his carnal mind. The shout of their hallelujahs would come upon him like a knell of condemnation. The presence of that God whose mercies he had so unthankfully received, and so impiously abused, whose overtures of grace he had met with hardened impenitence, or contemptuous scorn, would torture him with remorse and terror. Those evil passions and desires which on earth had been freely indulged, would there find no object suited to their exercise; their sting would be turned upon himself, and even amid the glories of heaven, his soul would be the prey of the undying worm, and the unquenchable fire.
But He who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and who cannot even look upon sin, will not suffer such an experiment to be made. There shall in no wise enter into his holy habitation any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or that maketh a lie.' 'Come hither,' said the angel, in the apocalypse, to the apostle ‹ And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and John, 'I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomi-high mountain, and showed me that great city, the nation, or maketh a lie; but they which are holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from written in the Lamb's book of life,' Rev. xxi. 27. God, having the glory of God,' Rev. xxi. 9—11.
It is that city in which the redeemed of the Lord, his ransomed church, having now neither spot of sin, nor wrinkle of decay, nor any such thing, shall enjoy everlasting communion with her Lord. It is that city whose gates shall then be for ever closed against all who know not God, neither obey the gospel of his Son. The nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it, but without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie,' Rev. xxii. 22.
WE cannot tell what are to be the individual employments of the blessed in a future state, nor can we specify the various means through the intervention of which their ineffable and unceasing happiness is to be maintained. Such information was unnecessary; and, accordingly, it has not been revealed. But though imagination be thus left to speculate on the details of a heavenly existence, we know that its chief end will be the praise and glory of him that sitteth upon the throne, and of the Lamb for ever and ever. We know that all its bliss will be derived from a more intimate O! what unutterable horror shall, in that day, knowledge of, and a closer communion with our seize the wretched souls who shall have no part Saviour and our God. And whatever may be nor lot in that celestial city, who shall be cast into the inferior objects which shall attract the regards utter darkness! When the sun, in whose light of these purified spirits, we are assured they shall they now rejoice, shall at length have gone down be infinitely more elevated, and more holy than to rise no more, when amid the darkness which even the noblest of those pursuits with which hu-shall suddenly surround that earth to which they
cleave, the archangel's trump shall sound, and and the glory that should follow, he straightway the graves shall give up their dead; when, through gives utterance to that gracious call, which from that thicker than Egyptian gloom, he who is the the very current of the prophecy, we must of bright and morning Star, shall be seen coming necessity understand as proceeding from the Reforth from his chamber in the east, to be glorified deemer, and as referring to that salvation his in his saints, and to be admired of all them that death was to secure. If any doubt on these believe; and when, from the countless myriads of points could possibly remain, it must yield at the redeemed, this triumphant shout of joy shall once on turning to the New Testament, and there instantaneously ascend; 'Lo! this is our God, we finding language precisely similar issuing directly have waited for him, and he will save us; lo, this from the lips of the Saviour himself: 'In the last is our God, we have waited for him, we will be day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and glad, and rejoice in his salvation;' and when cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come these exulting thousands shall be seen going away unto me and drink,' John vii. 37. Or, once more to share in the blessedness of those who are in the last chapter of the book of the Revelation, called to the marriage supper of the Lamb; ver. 16, 17, 'I Jesus have sent mine angel to think of the unutterable dismay, the indescribable testify unto you these things in the churches. 1 anguish of those who having lived without God, am the root and the offspring of David, and the and died without hope, shall have their portion bright and the morning star. And the Spirit and assigned them in the place of everlasting woe the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.
If we would escape the condemnation of the wicked, and share in the rewards of the righteous, we must be now daily, diligently, prayerfully waiting and watching for the coming of the Son of man; we must be working while it is called today, having our loins girded, and our staves in our hands, by patient continuance in well-doing, seeking for glory, honour, and immortality. It is here, on earth, that change must be wrought upon our fallen nature which is indispensable to fit us for heaven. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,' John iii. 3. 'Now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation,' 2 Cor. vi. 2. There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave,' Eccl. ix. 10. In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be,' Eccl. xi. 3.
'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price,' Isa. lv. 1.
IN chap. liii. of this book the Holy Spirit sets forth that remarkable description of Messiah, -of his person and character,—his sufferings and death, which has been so often and so triumphantly adduced as one of the many conclusive proofs, that 'the prophecy came not in old time by the will of men, but that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,' 2 Pet. i. 21. Immediately thereafter we find in chap. liv. a glowing picture of the rapid and amazing increase of the church of God. And when the prophet has spoken thus explicitly of the coming of Christ,
1. The invitation is to every one that thirsteth. This surely is no restriction upon the freeness of the gospel call. Were the owner of a fountain by the way-side to summon every passer-by to draw near and partake of its refreshing waters, the invitation would be valued and embraced only by those who were actually athirst. It could not therefore be regarded as setting any limit to the freeness of his invitation, were it made to run in the very terms of the passage of scripture before us: 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."' Such a form of expression must be viewed, not in the light of a condition imposed by the Giver, but simply, as descriptive of the state necessary to the acceptance of the blessing on the part of the receiver. No one, therefore, not even the most vile and worthless, is left despondingly to say, 'I would gladly have closed with an offer so gracious, but it is not addressed to me,—it is not intended for such as me.' He who thus speaks, wilfully shuts the door of mercy in his own face, and with his own hand; nay, he ungratefully and impiously impugns the sincerity of Christ. He says, 'Ho! every one that thirsteth; and who shall set up limits which the Lord of salvation himself hath thrown down? Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways and live?' Ezek. xviii. 23. 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,' Matt. xi. 28. "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,' 1 Tim. i. 15.
2. But what is it, in the spiritual sense of the words 'to be athirst?' It is to feel the misery and danger of our natural estate, as an estate of sin and estrangement from God. In their unawakened state, men think very little of their sinfulness at all. But no sooner does the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to convince of sin, let in the searching light of Divine truth upon the soul, than the painful and terrifying discovery is made, that the heart is not right with God. And the longer and the more steadily the sinner continues under this divine guidance to look within, the more does he find to disturb his peace, and to fill him with anxiety and fear. The deadness of his heart to all things spiritual and divine, the worldliness of his affections and desires, his habitual
neglect of God; these, and many similar marks and fruits of indwelling corruption, of which, previously, he had taken no account at all, stand out every day with more alarming clearness. Until at length, when he has sought up and down every corner of his soul for one spot untainted by sin, when he has examined every action of his life, to find one deed that will bear to be measured by the requirements of God's holy law, and finds the search to be fruitless and vain; it is then the humbling confession is extorted from his lips, that there is no health in him, that he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
ence, his sufferings, his crucifixion, were the ransom price of the sinner's soul. For we were redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot. Oh! the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out. Herein indeed was love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us; sparing not his own Son, but freely giving him unto the death for us all.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,' Rev. iii. 17.
ALREADY the church of Laodicea, though so recently planted, had suffered a lamentable decline. The sin which is so apt to creep into and overspread churches of long standing,-the sin of lukewarmness and indifference,—had taken complete possession of this church even in its carly youth. The heart-warm fervour of genuine piety had given place to a lifeless form; the humbling conviction of utter unworthiness in the sight of God, to proud notions of self-sufficiency. The love of Christ to the love of this world. And as the necessary consequence of this total decay of religious principle and feeling, a mere show of respect for the outward ordinances of the gospel was all that remained in the room of vital godliness. They had not yet reached that point at which a religious profession is altogether laid aside, and entire apostacy from the faith is openly proclaimed. On the contrary, they still scrupulously retain all the external insignia of a Christian church, but it was a shadow without the substance; a body without the soul. Though Christian in name, spiritually considered it was a Christless church. That such a church must have become utterly distasteful and offensive to
3. And how richly, how generously are the sinner's wants supplied out of that fulness which is treasured up in Christ. 'He that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat,-yea come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price.' And why without a price? Because a gracious and compassionate God knew the sinner had no price to pay. Had it been so that a price were demanded, what could man have offered? His heart! It is full of enmity to God. His service! It is contempt and rebellion. His life! It is not his own. But though the sinner had ‘no money,' nothing whatever wherewith to purchase admission to the fountain of the water of life; think not that without a price that admission was secured. Why was it that he 'who made the worlds,' was found by the shepherds of Bethlehem as a helpless infant cradled in a man-him who looketh not on the outward appearance, ger? Why was it that he who was 'the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person,' took upon him the form of a servant? Why was it that he who was 'in the bosom of the Father from all eternity,' was heard exclaiming in the agony of his soul, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' Why was it the Lord of life was seen bleeding to death on the cursed tree? His humiliation, his obedi
but who searcheth the heart, it can need no argument to prove. It cannot, therefore, surprise any one to hear the awfully emphatic expression of aversion and abhorrence with which their state and character were regarded by the Lord. But it may well excite feelings of admiration and amazement to find with what tender compassion, notwithstanding of all their defections and provocations, the Saviour still entreated
them to return unto him and live. Full of whose person and work had been thus dishonignorant, presumptuous, and carnal self-confi- oured and disowned, is still waiting to be gradence they felt no real need of, or dependence cious.' 'I counsel thee to buy of me gold,' white on Christ. And yet, so far from giving them raiment,' eye-salve,' all that the soul requires over to their own reprobate mind, he earnestly for its complete redemption.' Men must not presses upon them anew all the rich treasures of think to mine this gold, to weave this raiment, his grace; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried to compound this eye-salve, by any efforts of in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white their own. They must seek all in Christ. In raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that him it hath pleased the Father that all fulness the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and should dwell,—and out of his fulness we all may anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou may- receive, and grace for grace. None but he can be est see.' made of God unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption. He offers us the 'gold,'' gold tried in the fire.' Surely this must be his own everlasting love. Like gold, it is most precious, for it redeems us from death and hell; yea, it is like gold tried in the fire,' for it endured the cross. He offers us the white raiment,' what is this but the spotless robe of his own perfect righteousness, which is unto all and upon all them that believe? He offers us the 'eye-salve,' wherewith to anoint our eyes that we may see. Is not this that 'unction of the Holy One,' which they who have know all things;' that divine illumination, which Paul earnestly sought for the Ephesians, when he prayed that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, might give unto them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, that they might know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand,' Eph. i. 17—20. ̧
The self-complacency which continues to characterize so many lukewarm' disciples, rests, as in the case of the Laodiceans of old, on an entire misapprehension of their actual condition and prospects in the sight of God. Vainly confiding in names and forms, they know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Were these words intended to be taken in their literal acceptation, the statement they contain would indeed be passing strange. The evils which these various expressions denote are, in that view, all of them too palpable to sense, to be either unnoticed or unfelt. But it is one of the marks of a fallen nature to be keenly alive to those physical disorders which afflict our bodily and temporal estate, and to be all but utterly insensible to those spiritual maladies which destroy the immortal soul. In this sense the natural man knows not that he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. 'Wretched,' as being in a state of spiritual death. Miserable,' as being devoid of all true peace and happiness in the life that now is, and having nothing awaiting him in the life to come, but that wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Poor,' as being totally destitute of the graces of the Holy Spirit, and without part or lot in the inheritance of heaven. 'Blind,' as having no right or realizing apprehension of the things that belong to the soul's peace, and going on heedless and headlong down the broad way that leadeth to destruction. Naked,' as being exposed, in all the vileness of a sinful heart and an unholy life, to the searching scrutiny of him whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and who cannot look upon sin.
But how long-suffering is the Lord! He whose salvation, bought at the price of his own precious blood, they had treated with neglect or scorn; whose grace they had despised as a gift of no value; whose righteousness they were too proud to put on; whose Spirit of saving light and health they had spurned away; that very Saviour
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judg ment unto victory,' Matt. xii. 20.
THESE words, spoken originally by the prophet Isaiah, are truly and touchingly descriptive of the gentle and compassionate spirit of Christ; and were graciously designed to re-assure and comfort every lowly and contrite sinner. He who in his own personal ministry was ever so full of meekness and benignity,—who did neither strive nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets,-who endured so patiently a countless multitude of wrongs,-who bore with a long